Leafy Spurge Essay

2525 words - 11 pages

In the year 30 BC, the famous couple Mark Antony and Cleopatra committed suicide after Octavian (who later became Caesar Augustus of Biblical fame) invaded Egypt to eliminate Antony as a threat to his rule over the Roman Empire. Octavian kept Antony and Cleopatra’s three children alive, but brought them back to Italy as prisoners. The three children, all under the age of 12, were then paraded through the streets of Rome wearing heavy gold chains that were so heavy that the children were unable to walk. Later, the children were raised by Octavia Minor, the older sister of Octavian and a former wife of their father, Antony. Of the three, the only child to survive to adulthood was Cleopatra ...view middle of the document...

The poinsettia is named after the first U.S. ambassador to Mexico, Joel Roberts Poinsett, who is credited with introducing the plant to the U.S. in 1825. Other spurges are commonly used in garden settings because they are well adapted to dry conditions, but some of the spurges in the U.S. have gotten out of control and become noxious and highly invasive weeds. This paper will discuss the impact on agriculture from one such weed, Euphorbia esula, along with methods of how it can be controlled.
Euphorbia esula L. The genus was named by Carl Linnaeus in honor of the above-mentioned physician, Euphorbos. The common name “spurge” comes from the word “espurge” or the French “espurgiere”, which are related to the current English word “purge”. This is related to the common use of euphorbia sap as a laxative.
Height: 0.75-1 meter tall. Several stems grow from woody crown beneath surface. Linear blue-green leaves grow alternately from stem. Milky latex sap is found in all parts of the plant. Lime-green bracts surround true flowers. Seeds are found three seeds to a pod, and can remain viable for up to eight years in the soil (Lym, Messersmith, & Zollinger, 2009). Roots grow deep into the soil and contain many adventitious buds from which new shoots can sprout from, either to regrow the plant after damage, or to increase the area of growth. Figure 1 shows the root structure of a plant, with the lateral roots that contain many of the buds from which the plant can re-sprout.
The native range of leafy spurge is spread across northern Europe and Asia, but is thought to originate from the Caucasus region.
There are several theories that try to explain how leafy spurge was introduced to the United States. One is that ships would take on soil as ballast, and that the soil contained weed seeds. This ballast was often dumped on the shoreline when the ship took on heavier cargo. This theory is supported by a specimen found near Philadelphia in 1877 that was collected from a ballast dump (Dunn, 1985). Another theory is that Mennonites moving from Russia to avoid conscription into the Czar’s army may have brought contaminated wheat seed with them when they moved into Canada. Other theories include contaminated seed introduced from Russia, with one observer noting that the seed cleaning operations in Russia were “very bad”, and that it was “impossible to obtain seed grain that [was] pure and free of weed seeds” (Dunn, 1985).
Distribution of Leafy Spurge
The first mention of leafy spurge in the United States is by the noted botanist William Oakes, who discovered and preserved a specimen in Essex County, Massachusetts (Britton, 1921). Since that first siting, it has spread across the U.S., with major infestations across the United States, including Montana, North Dakota, and into Canada, and smaller patches in Idaho and Washington (Dunn, 1979, 1985). Other states have large areas that have been invaded by leafy spurge, but it seems...

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